Gift Guide For Kids (Ages 4 & 6!)

Happy Friday, friends! I told you yesterday that I’m basically done with my shopping.  I’m feeling really good about being organized and on the ball this year!  I just sat down to write this post and thought I would glance over the previous gift guides I’ve written for the kids over the years.  I had no idea I’d done so many!

What’s funny is that I had already written up the list of what I wanted to include this year when I went back and read these old lists, and realized that so many of my recommendations have been the same for YEARS! I guess that’s good news that some of our favorite toys have remained at the top of the list for so long.

So without further wait, here are the recommendations for this year, with my giant big kids ages 4 and 6.  It’s also worth noting that my kids play together almost 100% of the time.  So while there are two years between them, all of these items (aside from maybe the books) are really geared toward both of them.  And as always, these aren’t ALL things we have or are getting this year, but some of them are and the others we just keep our eye for down the road.

Things to Do

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Experiences – I feel like this is the main thing I see recommended over and over again on gift guides (including my own). I have mixed feelings on this for a few reasons!  On one hand I think the kids have more than enough toys and that experiences and memories are so much more special. At the same time, I think it’s reaaaally hard to kids to understand and appreciate the intangible, especially on Christmas morning.  The “experiences” we are focusing on this year is a trip to the Nutcracker Ballet, as well as the Seattle Children’s Theater performance of Mr. Poppers Penguins. Both of these will be within a few days of Christmas, so my hope is that they understand it is part of their holiday gift from their grandparents.

Now that the boys are in school more, we aren’t doing as many regular memberships to the museums and places like the zoo because we simply aren’t able to get there as often as we used to.

Subscription Boxes – This is sort of a newer trend and something fun and different than the usual toy clutter.  We tried Kiwi Crate a million years ago when Cullen was only like two and while it was fine then, I think it would be better suited for my kids now that they are a bit older. It’s a fun tinker box that comes in the mail each month with a STEM or art project geared toward kids of certain ages. I also have my eye on the older Tinker Box crate for Cullen!

The other box we are going to try this year is the Hot Wheels Challenge Box!  Both my kids are super into Hot Wheels right now, so this is a no brainer.  Each box comes with new special edition cars and a few different stunts to set up and try out using different props and materials. I’m hoping this is good entertainment on rainy days!

Dinosaur Dig Kits – My kids are super into dinosaurs right now, and they even had a dino-themed birthday party this year.  Cullen is really into the idea of becoming a paleontologist (send help), and he loves these dinosaur dig kits. We have done different ones where you dig out dinosaur bones, can break open dinosaur eggs, and also just general fossil digs.  I do these on rainy days and have them do them in a big empty box (they are a huge mess!).

Board Games – Both my kids love games, and they are finally in that sweet spot where they can play most of them together with minimal intervention.  Current favorites in our house are Sorry!, Sleeping Queens (my personal favorite), Trouble, and just basic playing cards.  Both kids like to play War, and Cullen recently mastered Solitaire (hallelujah!).  New games they are getting for Christmas this year are Sushi Go! and Cullen is getting the LEGO Chess Set from Santa.

Osmo kit – This is something new that the grandparents are getting our kids this year, and I’m really hoping they are going to love it! They love anything associated with the iPad, but I hate the mindless games that have no direction or point to them. So this feels like the best of both worlds! We are getting the genius kit that has math, letters, tangrams, drawing, and a ton of other interactive ways for the kids to learn and have fun. Down the road, we might get some of the extensions like the Hot Wheels kit or the Intro Coding game.

Puzzles – One of those things you can never have enough of!  Both my kids are really into puzzles now, which makes it a really fun thing for the whole family to do.  For kids’ puzzles they can do on their own, we really like the Ravensburger brand – both the frame puzzles for beginners, and the jigsaw puzzles as they get more independent.  For family puzzles we love the Dowdle brand!  We have a huge stack of 500 and 1000-piece puzzles that we rotate through for different seasons and holidays.  We are party animals!

Things to Read

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Books, so many books! We are in desperate need of a new bookshelf in the boys’ room – there are piles overflowing everywhere.  Cullen is voracious reader, and Graham is really getting into letter sounds and identification, so books are a big part of every day at our house.  I could talk about books forever, and maybe I should do a separate post with more detail eventually.  For now I’ll break it down into what they are loving to read at their current ages.

Cullen, age 6

  • Magic Treehouse – we have so many of these that I finally stopped buying them and now we are making our way through the rest from the library. He reads these quickly and has learned a ton of historical information from Jack and Annie’s adventures!
  • Merlin Missions – these are a spin-off of the Magic Treehouse that we haven’t started yet, but I got a set of the first 24 books in the series from the Scholastic Book Order at Cullen’s school. He is going to love them!
  • Boxcar Children – another classic chapter series that he just loves. He seems to really enjoy books that involve solving mysteries! I told myself I can’t start buying any new series but I am so tempted by this starter set with the adorable boxcar storage box!
  • Captain Underpants – these are silly and full of potty words, but they are also quite harmless and both my kids LOVE them. They are written in a cartoon format, which is another interesting way to introduce reading.  We also recently got the first Dog Man book (by the same author), and Cullen is getting the second one for Christmas.
  • Roald Dahl – we all agree these are the best books of all time, right? These were some of the first chapter books that Cullen got into, and I can’t keep track of how many times he has read them over and over again. Favorites are Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches. I got him the full box set at Costco last year.
  • Beverly Cleary – we got the Mouse and the Motorcycle series for Cullen’s birthday this year and he loved them. I saw the full Beverly Cleary box set at Costco this year and couldn’t resist. Another set of classics that I can remember reading in my own childhood!
  • Harry Potter Illustrated series – I’m sure you’ve all seen the new illustrated version of the Harry Potter books that were released recently. My mom got Cullen the first one for Christmas, and I think he is going to love it! I’ve never read any of the HP books myself so I’m excited to read these along with him in the coming months.

Graham, age 4

  • High Five magazines – we have had this subscription for years, and while both boys like them they are better suited for Graham these days. He loves the stories, the Hidden Pictures, and all the other puzzles and games inside each one. And it’s always exciting to get a new piece of mail!
  • Fly Guy – these are silly books about a boy and his pet fly, Fly Guy. Graham loves the plots and they are short, easy reads so we can do a few at a time before bed or during down time.
  • LEGO Ninjago books – I will start by saying that I can’t stand these books and they are painful to read. With that said, Graham loves them and soaks up every little bit of character detail and storyline. He loves the Ninjago story (from the TV show) and is super into all the characters. These are his favorites to read before bed!
  • Berenstain Bear books – My mom saved all of my Berenstain Bear books from my childhood, so we have almost every single one of these now.  A huge collection!  My kids both LOVE them, and these are some of our favorites to read during down time in the playroom, or to take with us in the car on road trips.

Wow guys, so many books.  Sorry I got excited and sidetracked!  Back to the list…

Things to Build

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Magnatiles – These are on my list every year, and are still some of our most played-with items.  The kids build less giant towers now, and instead do lots of tiny boxes and structures that they use as hot wheels garages, dens for their animal figurines, and houses for Playmobil people. I love to see them be so creative with them!  We have the 100 piece set and the 32 piece starter set, as well as the cars expansion set for making vehicles. Earlier this summer I scored a great deal on two more sets the kids are getting for Christmas this year – the black tiles, and the glow in the dark set. They play with these so often that we can’t have too many, and when they do eventually outgrow them they hold resale value very well.

Playmobil – These were my very favorite toys as a kid, and it’s so special for me to see my kids get into it too!  There are a million different sets and themes to choose from, and instead of getting a big variety we have chosen to stick with a few but get a lot so there is plenty to play with. I’ve had big success with finding these sets sold used on Facebook or at garage sales!  My kids’ most-played with toy is the Playmobil Zoo and Wild Life set.  We have a TON of animals which makes all the difference because there is no need to fight over anything.  We also have an amazing Castle with all the knights, dragons, and horses (that I scored at a garage sale last summer!).  Our only other set is some Pirate stuff, and they are getting a few more pirate accessories for Christmas. If you get into these, I highly recommend building a lot of accessories for one or two sets, versus a million random things that don’t go together.

Legos – What more is there to say about Legos? Kids love to build them, parents hate to find them all over the house. I feel sort of frustrated by Legos because my kids love to build them new, but then don’t play with them as much afterward. They are also super expensive, and can be frustrating for Graham when they break apart easily. That said, they love the figurines and are super into the Ninjago series right now. They are each getting one more set this year, but that’s it!

Things that Go

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Believe it or not it doesn’t always rain in Seattle, and in the summers and warmer months we LIVE outside! We really try to maximize our Vitamin D and fresh air exposure whenever possible, and I’m always trying to find fun way to get the kids into the backyard when the sun is shining.  Here are some of our favorite things for outdoor play!

Specialized Hotrock Bike – This was Cullen’s first bike that he started with training wheels, and Graham will use this one next summer!  It’s a great starter bike for new riders with backward braking.  It is so fun to see the kids suddenly taking off on two wheels!

Isla Bike – Cullen got this bike at the end of last summer, and he will really be ready to master it this coming year. He loves riding his bike, and the Isla bikes are really well made and safe for kids. I’m hoping this one will last him at least a few years (he has the 20 inch version)!  It is such a nice bike!

Micro Scooters – When they aren’t on their bikes, both kids still LOVE their Micro Maxi Scooters.  I’d highly recommend the Maxi model over the Mini for kids of any age.  They are the exact same size, but the Maxi adjusts to taller heights so it grows with your child – you will never need another scooter.  My kids have been on these for 2+ years and they are still in perfect condition – we take these everywhere in the summer!

Disc Swing – We have a super basic small disc swing hanging from a tree in our backyard, and between my kids and the neighbors, someone is swinging on it all day long.  If we ever move I dream of getting one of those giant net swings you can put from a big strong tree!  But for now the disc swing is highly entertaining.

Frisbee – we got this Beamo Frisbee last summer, and it is so much easier for the kids to use than a regular plastic frisbee.  It is perfect for the backyard or the beach, and can soar a lot higher and longer, with better control and ability to catch because of the hole in the middle.  Our only issue is that the dog thinks it is for him!

Stocking Stuffers

Hotwheels Cars – You can’t beat the price tag of $1!  My kids love Hotwheels, and they carry them around like trinkets wherever they go.  I know a few new cars for each of them in the stockings will go a long way this year.

Beanie Babies – Guys, why are these a thing again? My kids LOVE them, and we are so not a stuffed animal family.  I guess the ones my kids are into are called the “regular” beanies now, because they aren’t the ones with the glittery eyes. So far they have a monkey, lion, tiger, and a giraffe – I think they are each getting one in a stocking – the white tiger for Graham, and the owl for Cullen.

Trinkets – Stockings are fun for doing tiny little trinkets and collectibles (that I will kick myself for buying later).  I grabbed each kid a Lego keychain for $4 at the Lego store a few months back, and I know they will be excited to put them on their backpacks.  Stockings are also a great place for easy stuff like new socks or winter mittens!

I think that’s plenty for this year! I’m excited to wrap our gifts and get all set up for the holiday this year.  We did all our decorations early this year, and I’ll be back next week to show you our festive house and one more fun gift guide for adults!  Have a great weekend!